Naked Terra-cotta Warriors
Posted by: Uchinatravel (IP Logged)
Date: April 13, 2010 09:49AM
In 41BC, Han Dynasty Emperor Jing Di Liu Qi passed away after 16 years of struggle against his kinsmen and the Huns. He was buried in a chamber covered with a huge earth mound, which was surrounded by an imperial mausoleum known as Yangling Mausoleum, and his stories became legendary and even mythical.
He was almost forgotten until more than 2,000 years later. In May 1990, a highway connecting Xi'an city (the city where full-sized terra-cotta warriors were discovered in 1974) and airport was under construction. Because one part of the planned highway was in the protected archaeological site of the Yangling Mausoleum, construction workers were very careful not to disturb the emperor's afterlife.
Upon accident, they found many terra-cotta burial figures: terra-cotta pigs, chickens, sheep, ox etc. More importantly, they found Han Dynasty Terra-cotta warriors. This turned out to be another important discovery in the late 20th century. After careful excavation, 81 burial pits were found and thousands of figures were unearthed.
Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD) Terra-cotta warriors are different from Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC) Terra-cotta warriors in many ways: they don't have a pedestal under their feet; they are nude, armless, they are 1/3 of the size of a real person, and were made a half century afterwards.
Terra-cotta figures were well made for the purpose of accompanying the deceased in their afterlife, a concept strongly believed by ancient Chinese. Our ancestors considered death a beginning of another life, the dead should be looked after as if they were still alive. They buried food, jade, pottery, weapons, implements, and sometimes, even human beings in the tombs for a prosperous afterlife.
Because human sacrifice had always been considered too cruel to be human, Chinese began to make terra-cotta, wooden, and metal figures to replace the real life sacrafices. The style of burial figures varied throughout different periods of time: Qin Dynasty Terra-cotta warriors and horses were made full-sized, while Han Dynasty terra-cotta warriors were made 1/3 of the life-size. Also, Han Dynasty burial horses were made of wood.
It's very interesting for archaeologist to figure out why the Yangling Mausoleum Terra-cotta warriors were made nude and armless. When they were unearthing them, they discovered the truth by reading carefully the earth book without words: over 2150 years ago, all warriors were in real clothes and amour suits, their arms were made of wood and they were connected to the body through the two holes in the warrior's sides. After so many years of aging in the dirt, cotton, linen, silk clothes and leather amour pieces all rotted away; there remain only the warriors' bodies.
Yangling Terra-cotta warriors are also different from each other; they look more peaceful than the Qin warriors; they were made 1/3 size, everything on them was made 1/3 size: weapon, dress, purse, coin etc. In many ways, they were more interesting than the Qin Dynasty Terra-cotta Warriors and horses.
Today, if you go to Xian, don't forget to visit the first underground museum in China on the actual dig of the Yangling Mausoleum. You can see beside you, or under your feet, the rich and spectacular cultural relics created by our ancestors long before Christ.
Check here for more details:[www.uchinatravel.com]